Cancer And A Good God.
As some of you may know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer this week. That’s about all we know. We know the masses are malignant. The extent of the cancer and the treatment plan will be revealed at an upcoming oncologist appointment.
I can’t really express all that I’ve been feeling this week. Anger was certainly my initial response. I’m angry this is happening, and even more so I’m angry I’m not there. Everything in me wants to be there with her, talking, praying, and watching Hallmark movies. I’m angry at the medical process, because I want all the information now. I’m sick of waiting. The anger is mixed in with sadness because my amazing momma is walking through this and sadness that my steadfast daddy has to watch her suffer. It’s just hard.
I know very little about suffering. I see it around me all the time, but have little personal experience. However, there are a few points I do know and these I cling to.
God Did Not Intend Suffering
Suffering is result of a sinful broken world. When the first people made that decision to put themselves above God, breaking their fellowship with God, sin and suffering rushed into our world. Our world is broken, suffering, and not at all how God intended. Lysa Terkeurst describes our present age as the “world between two gardens”. God’s perfect garden was destroyed when humanity chose sin, but He loves us too much to leave us in this broken state devoid of Him, so He sent the Rescuer. Thanks to Jesus we can have hope, and we can trust that restoration is coming. All believers will live in a perfect garden, free from suffering, once again. In the mean time, the lack of perfection around us is meant to point us back to our perfect God. Suffering is a reminder that we are not meant for this world. We are meant for a world far greater, an eternal world that only Jesus Christ can offer.
God Does Hold Us Through Suffering
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV) says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” We serve the God of all comfort. He is there with us. He himself suffered more than we can fathom, and He will not leave us as we suffer. I do know that through this I’m going to be reminded of God’s grace. I do not deserve His comfort, but it is a precious gift that He extends to me anyways. I need Him to hold me. Suffering is reminding me how incapable I am of doing life on my own. I’m crushed, a limp noodle, in the arms of my Savior. Getting through this without Christ would be impossible.
God Does Use Suffering
More often than not, suffering is the fire God uses to refine us. I know I need refining. I need to stop doing life in my own strength. I need to stop giving Satan a foothold in my thought life. There are countless other things in my life that need to be sifted out and thrown away so that I can portray Christ more beautifully. What if my mom’s cancer battle is the fire God chooses to use? One thing my mom has told me is that she does not want to let this battle go by without becoming more like Christ. I’m following her example and saying the same thing for myself.
One of my spiritual heroes and my first daughter’s namesake, Elisabeth Elliot, says this in her book A Path Through Suffering. “Suffering creates the possibility of growth in, holiness, but only to those who, by letting all else go, are open to the training – not by arguing with the Lord about what they did or did not do to deserve punishment, but by praying, ‘Lord show me what You have for me in this.’” May I be open to the training.
God Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle
I cannot handle my mom’s cancer diagnosis. It is too heavy for me to carry and it will crush me. Pottery is one of my favorite forms of art. I could look at beautiful southern pottery for the better part of a day. However, I know little about the process to create such beautiful pieces. I was recently reading about the concept of grog. Grog is essential to the pottery process because it makes the clay significantly stronger and adds artistic beauty. What is grog? Grog is old pottery that has been crushed into just the right consistency before being added to a batch of new clay. If the grog is crushed too finely it will not strengthen the clay properly, and if it is too coarse it will cut the potters hands. It has to be placed under just the right amount of pressure for just the right amount of time in order to serve its most significantly beautiful purpose. That old pottery cannot handle the pressure. It will be crushed, but it will serve a purpose greater than itself and come out stronger and more beautiful. We may not know why we are being crushed. Our job isn’t to know why. Our job is to trust the Potter.
Cancer is hard. I can’t see God’s plan through this. I hate the idea of my mom being so sick. I hate that I am not there with her. Processing all of this from across the world adds another dimension, and honestly, I think I’m still in shock. All I know is that I’m going to pray for healing, trusting that God hears me. I’m going to cling to Him no matter the diagnosis or outcome, because He can be trusted. My mom is an amazing example of trusting God no matter what comes, and I will follow her example.